KOKOMO, Ind. — Community is at the heart of the Indiana University Kokomo experience.
Tuesday (May 11), IU President Michael A. McRobbie formally dedicated the Student Activities and Events Center (SAEC) — the building that provides the long-needed gathering space for the campus community.
“This much needed and very welcome center will further strengthen the already vigorous spirit of community, scholarship, and fellowship at IU Kokomo,” McRobbie said, noting that it is “at least a dozen facilities in one,” because not only is it a gym, but also a resource center, a commons, a classroom, a training center, a proving ground, a lounge, and more.
“This splendid new building not only enhances the vitality and functionality of this campus, but will also help the Kokomo campus to continue to attract and retain outstanding students, and provide them with countless opportunities for engagement and leadership,” he said.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said the campus has needed a gathering space for many years, and she’s pleased to finally have it.
“This truly is something to celebrate,” she said. “In my mind, the campus is now complete. We’re ready for the 21st century.”
Michael Koerner, associate professor of new media, presented his mural, Our Story, which was commissioned as part of the IU Bicentennial and IU Kokomo’s 75th anniversary, which were both celebrated in 2020.
He was chosen from among 25 Indiana artists to complete the work, displayed on the south wall of the multipurpose space. It includes 12 panels, each one 6-foot by 4-foot, showcasing themes of Then, Now, and Future.
“The gravity of the honor to depict Indiana University Kokomo’s heritage, and the realization that my interpretation will itself, in time, became a contribution to this narrative of heritage, does not escape me,” he said.
Women’s basketball player Jaela Meister spoke on behalf of student athletes, sharing their gratitude to have the new space. One of her personal favorite events was a Music Monday, a time sponsored by the Black Student Center for students to decompress by creating art and listening to music provided by a DJ.
Having the larger gym allowed athletic teams to play before small crowds this season, with numbers restricted because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“I cannot wait until we are able to fill up this gym with hundreds of students and staff, while also competing in front of our friends and families,” she said. “I hope to be able to raise another banner to represent this university, and to show how thankful I am to have witnessed the building of our new facility, and to play in it.”
McRobbie and Sciame-Giesecke both expressed gratitude for the donors who helped make the building possible. Melissa Domingues, president and CEO of Solidarity Community Federal Credit Union, and Bill Hunt, a long-time campus benefactor, represented those who gave.
Domingues said the credit union is proud to support the campus, because of their similar values in community. Hunt recalled IU Kokomo’s earliest days, when his father, Virgil Hunt, was the campus’s founding director, and it was located in the Seiberling Mansion. Back then, he said, IU Kokomo consisted of a few classrooms in three buildings, and the community gathering space was by the soft drink machine.
His philosophy has usually been to support scholarships, he said, because the $100 per semester scholarship Virgil Hunt received was a defining force for his family’s success.
“This is something that will benefit all students,” he said of the SAEC. “I’m happy to have played a part in it becoming a reality.”
The SAEC opened for the fall 2020 semester, just in time to also serve as much-needed classroom space due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Located southeast of Hunt Hall, on the eastern edge of campus, the 26,000 square foot building accommodates 1,000 to 1,200 spectators, and offers athletic offices, athletic training and locker facilities, a large lobby/reception area, and a three-story-high assembly space/gymnasium.